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  • SusanCNYC@aol.com
    NationofChange.org - The Day the Music Died The Day the Music Died By Marisa Buchheit and Paul Buchheit On October 20, 2011, after five months as an unemployed
    Message 1 of 14 , Feb 14, 2012
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      NationofChange.org - The Day the Music Died

      The Day the Music Died

      By Marisa Buchheit and Paul Buchheit

      On October 20, 2011, after five months as an unemployed college graduate with a music degree, I read the news about Congress rejecting a bill that would have supported education. Republican Mitch McConnell, one of the main advocates for the bank bailouts, called this bill supporting public education a 'bailout.'

       

      When I had left Chicago for the Cleveland Institute of Music four years before, I was idealistic and confident, with plans to help other young people learn about music and the arts. As I studied, I also listened to my dad, my coauthor here, and followed the news about the state of education in the United States. With regard to funding, the stories became increasingly disturbing. Music programs seemed to be dying a slow death. It struck me, finally, on that otherwise quiet day in October, that Congress cared more about avoiding a .1% tax on millionaires than keeping music programs in schools around the country.

       

      Since that day in October, I've learned more about the political disregard for education. While the full impact of the neglect for vital learning skills has yet to be uncovered, it is frightening to consider the implications for our nation. And it is personally devastating for those of us trying to build a career in music and the arts.

       

      These are some of the facts:

       

      --- A study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reports that "Elementary and high schools are receiving less state funding than last year in at least 37 states."

      --- Nearly 300,000 jobs in our education system have been lost since 2008.

       

      --- In the last 5 years the percentage of young students with access to music has been cut in half.

      Because of these cuts, schoolteachers are losing their jobs, class sizes are increasing, and school weeks have been shortened. Conservative groups call for a cut in federal funding while their chosen alternatives still rely on federal funding, or on states strapped for funds because corporate state taxes remain unpaid.

      It is simply not fair for us, as a nation, to deprive young students of opportunities in music and the arts. It is well understood that such pursuits play a role in the developmental process of a young person. But now we have factual evidence:

      --- A College Entrance Examination Board study found that students participating in public school music programs scored 107 points higher on average on the SAT.

      --- According to a 2007 study by the Journal for Research in Music Education, students in high quality music programs scored 19% higher in English and 17% higher in mathematics than those without a music program.

      --- In 2007, a Northwestern University study found that music training may enhance verbal communication skills more than learning phonics.

      If you prefer cultural evidence for the value of music training, consider what Bill Clinton, Adam Sandler, Condoleeza Rice, Meryl Streep, Albert Einstein, and Freddie Mercury have in common. They all have formal music training in their backgrounds. This is not to say that music has been the key to their success, but surely it has played a role.

      Our political and business leaders, advocates for individual initiative and independent choices for education, don't want to pay for it. Tax rates for corporations and wealthy individuals are at their lowest point in half a century. A .1% tax on millionaires on behalf of education is apparently too much for them.

      Our country's economic survival in a globalized world depends on improved skills in technology, math, and science. In the long run, it also depends on the ability of our young people to communicate with the developing world, and to grow as well-rounded individuals.

       

      We need to bring the music back to life.

      This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/day-music-died-1329234077. All rights are reserved.

    • SusanCNYC@aol.com
      NationofChange.org - Five Ways Privatization Degrades America Five Ways Privatization Degrades America By Paul Buchheit A grand delusion has been planted in
      Message 2 of 14 , Aug 13, 2012
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        NationofChange.org - Five Ways Privatization Degrades America

        Five Ways Privatization Degrades America

        By Paul Buchheit

         

        A grand delusion has been planted in the minds of Americans, that privately run systems are more efficient and less costly than those in the public sector. Most of the evidence points the other way. Private initiatives generally produce mediocre or substandard results while experiencing the usual travails of unregulated capitalism -- higher prices, limited services, and lower wages for all but a few 'entrepreneurs.'

         

        With perverse irony, the corruption and incompetence of private industry has actually furthered the cause of privatization, as the collapse of the financial markets has deprived state and local governments of necessary public funding, leading to an even greater call for private development.

         

        As aptly expressed by a finance company chairman in 2008, "Desperate government is our best customer."

         

        The following are a few consequences of this pro-privatization desperation:

         

         

        1. We spend lifetimes developing community assets, then give them away to a corporation for lifetimes to come.

         

        The infrastructure in our cities has been built up over many years with the sweat and planning of farsighted citizens. Yet the drop off in tax revenues has prompted careless decisions to balance budgets with big giveaways of public assets that should belong to our children and grandchildren.

         

        In Chicago, the Skyway tollroad was leased to a private company for 99 years, and, in a deal growing in infamy, the management of parking meters was sold to a Morgan Stanley group for 75 years. The proceeds have largely been spent.

         

        The parking meter selloff led to a massive rate increase, while hurting small businesses whose potential customers are unwilling to pay the parking fees. Meanwhile, it has been estimated that the business partnership will make a profit of 80 cents per dollar of revenue, a profit margin larger than that of any of the top 100 companies in the nation.

         

        Indiana has also succumbed to the shiny lure of money up front, selling control of a toll road for 75 years. Tolls have doubled over the first five years of the contract. Indianapolis sold off its parking meters for 50 years, for the bargain up-front price of $32 million.

         

        Atlanta's 20-year contract with United Water Resources Inc. was canceled because of tainted water and poor service.

         

         

        2. Insanity is repeating the same mistake over and over and expecting different results.

         

        Numerous examples of failed or ineffective privatization schemes show us that hasty, unregulated initiatives simply don't work.

         

        A Stanford University study "reveals in unmistakable terms that, in the aggregate, charter students are not faring as well as their traditional public school counterparts." A Department of Education study found that "On average, charter middle schools that hold lotteries are neither more nor less successful than traditional public schools in improving student achievement, behavior, and school progress."

         

        Our private health care system has failed us. We have by far the most expensive system in the developed world. The cost of common surgeries is anywhere from three to ten times higher in the U.S. than in Great Britain, Canada, France, or Germany.

         

        Studies show that private prisons perform poorly in numerous ways: prevention of intra-prison violence, jail conditions, rehabilitation efforts. The U.S. Department of Justice offered this appraisal: "There is no evidence showing that private prisons will have a dramatic impact on how prisons operate. The promises of 20-percent savings in operational costs have simply not materialized."

         

        A 2009 analysis of water and sewer utilities by Food and Water Watch found that private companies charge up to 80 percent more for water and 100 percent more for sewer services. Various privatization abuses or failures occurred in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

         

        California's experiments with roadway privatization resulted in cost overruns, public outrage, and a bankruptcy; equally disastrous was the state's foray into electric power privatization.

         

        Across industries and occupations, according to the Project on Government Oversight, the federal government paid billions more on private contractors than the amounts needed to pay public employees for the same services.

         

         

        3. Facts about privatization are hidden from the public.

         

        Experience shows that under certain conditions, with sufficient monitoring and competition and regulation, privatization can be effective. But too often vital information is kept from the public. The Illinois Public Interest Research Group noted that Chicago's parking meter debacle might have been avoided if the city had followed common-sense principles rather than rushing a no-bid contract through the city council.

         

        Studies by both the Congressional Research Service and the Pepperdine Law Review came to the same conclusion: any attempt at privatization must ensure a means of public accountability. Too often this need is ignored.

         

        The Arizona prison system is a prime example. For over 20 years the Department of Corrections avoided cost and quality reviews for its private prisons, then got around the problem by proposing a bill to eliminate the requirement for cost and quality reviews.

         

        In Florida, abuses by the South Florida Preparatory Christian Academy went on for years without regulation or oversight, with hundreds of learning-disabled schoolchildren crammed into strip mall spaces where 20-something 'teachers' showed movies to pass the time.

         

        In Philadelphia, an announcement of a $38 million charter school plan in May turned into a $139 million plan by July.

         

        In Michigan, the low-income community of Muskegon Heights became the first American city to surrender its entire school district to a charter school company. Details of the contract with Mosaica were not available to the public for some time after the deal was made. But data from the Michigan Department of Education revealed that Mosaica performed better than only 13% of the schools in the state of Michigan.

         

        Also in Michigan, an investigation of administrative salaries elicited this response from charter contractor National Heritage Academies: "As a private company, NHA does not provide information on salaries for its employees."

         

        Education writer Danny Weil summarizes the charter school secrecy: "The fact is that most discussions of charters and vouchers are not done through legally mandated public hearings under law, but in back rooms or over expensive dinners, where business elites and Wall Street interests are the shot-callers in a secret parliament of moneyed interests."

         

        Beyond prisons and schools, how many Americans know about the proposal for the privatization of Amtrak, which would, according to West Virginia Representative Nick Rahall, "cripple Main Street by auctioning off Amtrak's assets to Wall Street." Or the proposal to sell off the nation's air traffic control system? Or the sale of federal land in the west? Or the sale of the nation's gold reserves, an idea that an Obama administration official referred to as "one level of crazy away from selling Mount Rushmore"?

         

         

        4. Privatizers have suggested that teachers and union members are communists.

         

        Part of the grand delusion inflicted on American citizens is that public employees and union workers are greedy good-for-nothings, enjoying benefits that average private sector workers are denied. The implication, of course, is that low-wage jobs with meager benefits should be the standard for all wage-earners.

         

        The myth is propagated through right-wing organizations with roots in the John Birch Society, one of whose founding members was Fred Koch, also the founder of Koch Industries. To them, public schools are socialist or communist. Explained Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast with regard to private school vouchers in 1997, "we have come to the conclusion that they are the only way to dismantle the current socialist regime."

         

        But the facts show, first of all, that government and union workers are not overpaid. According to the Census Bureau, state and local government employees make up 14.5% of the U.S. workforce and receive 14.3% of the total compensation. Union members make up about 12% of the workforce, but their total pay amounts to just 9.5% of adjusted gross income as reported to the IRS.

         

        The facts also strongly suggest that wage stability is fostered by the lower turnover rate and higher incidence of union membership in government. The supportive environment that right-wingers call 'socialism' helps to sustain living wages for millions of families. The private sector, on the other hand, is characterized by severe wage inequality. Whereas the average private sector salary is similar to that of a state or local government worker, the MEDIAN U.S. worker salary is almost $14,000 less, at $26,363. While corporate executives and financial workers (about one-half of 1% of the workforce) make multi-million dollar salaries, millions of private company workers toil as food servers, clerks, medical workers, and domestic help at below-average pay.

         

         

        5. Privatization often creates an "incentive to fail."

         

        Privatized services are structured for profit rather than for the general good. A by-product of the profit motive is that some people will lose out along the way, and parts of the societal structure will fail in order to benefit investors.

         

        This is evident in the privatized prison system, which relies on a decreasing adherence to the law to ensure its own success. Corrections Corporation of America has offered to run the prison system in any state willing to guarantee that jails stay 90% full. "This is where it gets creepy," says Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal, "because as an investor you're pulling for scenarios where more people are put in jail."

         

        The incentive to fail was also apparent in road privatization deals in California and Virginia, where 'non-compete' clauses prevented local municipalities from repairing any roads that might compete with a privatized tollroad. In Virginia, the tollway manager even demanded reimbursement from the state for excessive carpooling, which would cut into its profits.

         

        The list goes on. The Chicago parking meter deal requires compensation if the city wishes to close a street for a parade. The Indiana tollroad deal demanded reimbursement when the state waived tolls for safety reasons during a flood.

         

        Plans to privatize the Post Office have created a massive incentive to fail through the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which requires the USPS to pre-pay the health care benefits of all employees for the next 75 years, even those who aren't born yet. This outlandish requirement is causing a well-run public service to default on its loans for the first time.

         

        Also set up to fail are students enrolled in for-profit colleges, which get up to 90 percent of their revenue from U.S. taxpayers. Less incentive remains for the schools after tuition is received, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the students enrolled in these colleges in 2008-9 left without a degree or diploma.

         

        And then we have our littler students, set up to fail by private school advocates in Wisconsin who argue that a requirement for playgrounds in new elementary schools "significantly limit[s] parent's educational choice in Milwaukee."

         

        In too many cases, privatization means success for a few and failure for the community being served. Unless success can be defined as a corporate logo carved into the side of Mount Rushmore.

        This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/five-ways-privatization-degrades-america-1344864526. All rights are reserved.

      • SusanCNYC@aol.com
        NationofChange.org - 26 States Cut Their Education Budgets for This School Year 26 States Cut Their Education Budgets for This School Year By Travis Waldron
        Message 3 of 14 , Sep 9, 2012
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          NationofChange.org - 26 States Cut Their Education Budgets for This School Year

          26 States Cut Their Education Budgets for This School Year

          By Travis Waldron

          States have made deep cuts to their education budgets in the years since the Great Recession, and as their budgets remained crunched by lower levels of tax revenues, more than half are spending less on education this school year than they did last year, a new analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found. Overall,  26 states will spend less per pupil in fiscal year 2013 than they spent in 2012, while 35 are still spending less than they did before the recession.

          As the following chart from CBPP shows, Alaska, Alabama, and Washington are leading the way in education cuts, reducing funding by at least $200 per student:

          Education spending isn’t back to its pre-recession levels in nine additional states, including Florida, which is boosting per pupil funding by $273 this year. Over the previous four years, however, Florida cut per pupil spending by $569. Seventeen states, according to CBPP, have cut their education budgets by at least 10 percent over the last five years.

          These cuts actually helped make the economic downturn worse, as they forced states and localities to layoff teachers and other education-sector workers. Since 2009, more than 200,000 teaching jobs  have vanished.

          But the cuts also have damaging effects on America’s education system as a whole. Cutting education budgets forces school districts to scale back services and programs. The cuts, as CBPP notes, can undermine education reform efforts, and since they are often disproportionately targeted at low-income school districts, education cuts can also exacerbate the education gap thatalready exists between low- and high-income students.

          This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/26-states-cut-their-education-budgets-school-year-1346855344. All rights are reserved.

        • SusanCNYC@aol.com
          NationofChange.org - Why Education Is No Longer The Great Equalizer Why Education Is No Longer The Great Equalizer By Josh Harkinson In 1848, Horace Mann, the
          Message 4 of 14 , Dec 24, 2012
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            NationofChange.org - Why Education Is No Longer The Great Equalizer

            Why Education Is No Longer The Great Equalizer

            By Josh Harkinson

            In 1848, Horace Mann, the godfather of the modern public school system, wrote that education is "the great equalizer of the conditions of men—the balance wheel of the social machinery." But is that still true today? Reuters followed two high school students in Massasschusetts, home to the nation's top public school system, and found evidence that our schools are becoming the opposite of what Mann envisioned: another source of division between the wealthy and everyone else.

            This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/why-education-no-longer-great-equalizer-1356367712. All rights are reserved.

          • Deborah Meier
            Actually, they never were equalizers. Read Colin Greer s old book on the mythology of schools. The Great School Legend. Which is not to say... But his
            Message 5 of 14 , Dec 24, 2012
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              Actually, they never were equalizers.

              Read Colin Greer's old book on the mythology of schools.   The Great School Legend.   Which is not to say...  But his point is that statistically speaking (always exceptions) people made it in school AFTER their parents generation made it into the middle class.  Interesting.  Pertinent.  Not to mention that for people of color  even a PhD didn't necessarily allow them to enter the middle class.  And women didn't fare a great deal better.  

              But we were pioneers world-wide in opening up schooling to a wider range of young people.

              And we could do a lot better, even if we're far from doing worse than ever, etc.  How to debunk a myth without debunking the idea that itx needs to be a lot better, and that there are reforms that could make it so.  Like smaller class sizes, greater school-site democracy,  more and better opportunities for teachers to keep learning (time time time), summer camp-like programs for all, socio-economic and racial integration (remember 1954?) and.....cheap colleges (like many many other countries have--including free education like City College in NYC once had).  etc, etc.   Imagine declaring that high schools must judge their success on the basis of college attendance and graduation rates, and then ending free education at grade 12.

              Deb
              -----
              Deborah Meier

              Note: latest book!! Playing For Keeps (TC Press) by D. Meier, Brenda Engel and Beth Taylor

              NOTE: new e-mail address.  deborahmeier@...

              For more information see website:  http://www.deborahmeier.com







              On Dec 24, 2012, at 1:13 PM, SusanCNYC@... wrote:

               

              Why Education Is No Longer The Great Equalizer

              By Josh Harkinson

              In 1848, Horace Mann, the godfather of the modern public school system, wrote that education is "the great equalizer of the conditions of men—the balance wheel of the social machinery." But is that still true today? Reuters followed two high school students in Massasschusetts, home to the nation's top public school system, and found evidence that our schools are becoming the opposite of what Mann envisioned: another source of division between the wealthy and everyone else.

              This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/why-education-no-longer-great-equalizer-1356367712. All rights are reserved.



            • susan.cnyc
              NationofChange.org - Shuttered: How America is Selling Out Its Schools Shuttered: How America is Selling Out Its Schools By Peter Rugh Boos and hisses fills
              Message 6 of 14 , Mar 26, 2013
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                NationofChange.org - Shuttered: How America is Selling Out Its Schools

                Shuttered: How America is Selling Out Its Schools

                By Peter Rugh

                 

                Boos and hisses fills the auditorium of Brooklyn Technical High as the governing board for New York City's public schools, the Panel on Education Policy, takes the stage. It's March 11 and the PEP is meeting to consider a proposal from Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to close nearly two dozen schools.

                Parent after parent, teacher after teacher, student after student takes the microphone and pleads for their school to remain open.

                Similar scenarios are consistently playing out in many parts of the country. Officials in Chicago last week announced plans to eliminate fifty-four schools next year in one swoop. The city's mayor, former Obama White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, was on vacation at the time of the announcement and could not be reached for comment.

                Earlier this month twenty-three schools got the axe in Philadelphia, about ten percent of the city's total. Nineteen protestors, including American Federation of Teachers head Randi Weingarten, were arrested for attempting to block the entrance to the building where Philly's education reform committee dished out the guillotine treatment.

                In New York, these PEP meetings have become a tired ritual. Everybody knows what to expect, and this evening's turnout is not what it has been in the past. Last year, a group calling itself Occupy the DOE – Department of Education – held an alternative, and louder, meeting while the panel was in session; the voices of parents, students and educators frequently drowned out those who sat on stage with microphones at their lips.

                Tonight, there's a significant crowd on hand but it falls far short of years before. The United Teachers Federation, which represents educators in New York, hasn't even bothered to mobilize its members, apparently preferring to bide its time until the mayoral election in November when, presumably, someone more amenable than billionaire Michael Bloomberg will be in office.

                Following in the footsteps of many who came before him, Bloomberg systematically underfunded the city's institutions of learning. Simultaneously, his Department of Ed has ramped up standardized testing -- a cash cow for giant publishing houses like Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt and Pearson, who design the tests used to measure whether schools are making the grade or whether the DOE will toss them overboard.

                “We have a responsibility not to react to emotions,” said School's Chancellor Dennis Walcott, whose responses to reporters' questions before the hearing rolled off his tongue with robotic speed and efficiency. “We have a responsibility to act to facts. The facts are that schools are not doing well.”

                The mayor, whom Walcott answers to, has the ability to appoint a supermajority of members to the PEP. He's used his power to bolt-up 140 schools that weren't “doing well” during his decade-plus reign. In Brooklyn Tech's auditorium this evening, that number reached 162.

                Meanwhile, for approximately every public school the DOE has crossed off its books, a charter school has opened up. Charter's are frequently non-union. They receive public funding but are privately run, sometimes by for-profit educational management firms.

                In New York, hedge funds have lobbed large sums of money into charters and often sit on their boards. “Hedge fund executives,” The New York Times has noted, are developing into a “significant political counterweight” to teachers unions and other advocates of public education.

                When it comes to an increased emphasis on testing, charters have a key advantage over traditional public schools: they can cross students off their grading sheets if they're not meeting their academic standards. Often that means students with learning disabilities get shown the door.

                By contrast, public schools have to take everybody. Public school teachers attest that students with learning disabilities, behavioral problems, or who speak English as a second language commonly enter their classrooms well after semesters have started.

                The roots of the charter model, which is gradually phasing out and replacing traditional public institutions in New York and nationwide, go back to ideological experiments implemented abroad -- specifically, under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet who seized power in Chile in 1971.

                “The first iteration of this project to privatize education, to control what people thought was under Pinochet,” says Dr. Lois Weiner who has written extensively on the decline of America's public education system. The model was crafted by the World Bank, she says, which used Chile as a neoliberal petri dish in the 1970s.

                From there the privatization project spread throughout Latin America where a number of dictators backed by the U.S. and international financiers ruled the roost. Out of Latin America, neoliberal education crossed oceans to Asia and Africa, chasing troubled economies like fire through dry brush.

                Weiner says the scenario typically went something like this: “'Oh, you want money to build a bridge?' That means modernizing your education system. And what do they mean by modernize? They mean standardized tests, they mean charter schools, they mean dismantling teachers unions.”

                 

                Britain's Margaret Thatcher brought the privatized model to Europe, where it later spread to countries in the former Eastern Block still dizzy from the fall of the Soviet empire.

                Charter-friendly legislation passed by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s helped the neoliberal education model grow roots in the U.S. In the following decade, President's George W. Bush's “No Child Left Behind” bill, followed by Obama's “Race to the Top” program, tied school funding to test results, further facilitating the dismantling of public education.

                Arne Duncan, the current Education Secretary, has bragged of his ambition to continue on a federal scale what he accomplished as head of Chicago schools: mass school shutterings and the propagation of charters.

                The emphasis on standardized tests to measure student achievement goes back much farther, however, and is laced with racism. Harvard President James Bryant Conant, a firm believer that an intellectual elite must govern the unwashed masses, laid the ground for the modern standardized testing system in the 1930s when he enlisted Princeton psychology professor Carl Brigham to design an aptitude test for students seeking college admission.

                Brigham was an ardent member of the eugenics movement, whose adherents claimed physical traits such as skin color could serve as moral and intellectual indicators. Brigham developed what would later serve as a pathfinder example of standardized testing: the SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, which is still widely used as a benchmark for college admissions.

                At the PEP hearing in Brooklyn, the racist elitism pioneered by Brigham and Conant was alive and well, with test results serving as a justification to shut the city's working class, black and brown youth out of their schools. An ongoing lawsuit from the UFT accuses the Department of Ed of violating chapter six of the 1964 Civil Rights barring discrimination from programs accepting federal dollars, since the majority of those impacted by the closings hail from communities of color.

                Yet while the city's Department of Ed has used test results to qualify the closings, they have likewise resisted testing classrooms for Polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCBs. The once widely used, highly toxic electrical coolant pioneered by Monsanto was banned by Congress in 1979. Advocates with New York Lawyers for Public Interest have identified 1,200 city schools either contaminated or potentially contaminated with PCBs. But the DOE refuses to test the air in classrooms for traces of the toxin, despite warnings from the Environmental Protection Agency. “Our kids are essentially being poisoned,” said Noah Gotbaum, a parent of three children in the school system. “The DOE says, 'No, don't worry.'”

                Gotbaum was elected to serve on his local Community Education Council in Harlem, a body meant to give parents a voice in the schooling of their children. But he says the “tin-pan dictatorship” of the PEP are the ones pulling the strings, regardless of input from parents.

                In one example, last December, Gotbaum says he and other parents learned from a three-line advertisement in Crain's New York that a triad of public schools in Manhattan were slated for demolition, to be replaced by high-income housing. In testimony before the PEP on Mar 11, Gotbaum complained that “the borough president was not told. Parents were not told. I'll tell you who was told: the developers. You are rushing to destroy our schools.”

                Like the UFT, Gotbaum is hoping New York's next mayoral administration will place a higher value on democracy than the Bloomberg administration. Other's think a fresh approach is needed,

                The Movement of Rank-and-File Educators, or MORE, is attempting to take over the teachers union in elections slated for April. They want to push the UFT more toward a social justice approach. “What MORE would do differently,” says Julie Cavanagh, a Brooklyn school teacher and MORE candidate for the UFT's presidency, “is change the philosophy and ideology of how the union functions.” That means building “real organic partnerships with the communities that we serve.”

                MORE has modeled itself on the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, which took over the Chicago teachers union in 2010 and led a strike that fought back attempts to cut teacher pay last June. They attribute their success cooperation from the community. Parents and students joined the Chicago teachers on the picket-line. The strike was seen as being about more than a contract, but about the systemic racism within the city's underfunded public schools.

                Decked in red t-shirts, members of MORE were out in force at the PEP hearing, standing by parents and students where the UFT leadership was absent. Their hope is that those with a mutual stake in preserving public education can band together to beat back the privatization of learning and build a quality school environment for all.

                Those wondering what the scenario would look like, should schooling go the opposite way, might examine Louisiana where Hurricane Katrina has provided an impetus for the overhaul the state's education system. Legislation approved by lawmakers in 2011 gives corporations the ability to govern charter schools and decide who gets in and who doesn't -- provided, of course, that they are the ones subsidizing the school.

                Asked what would happen should a porno shop, strip club or gambling establishment enter into this quid-pro-quo arrangement, Louisiana State Senator Julie Quinn replied: "I think we would welcome a business, casino or otherwise.”

                Up north, bodies young and old shuffled out of Brooklyn Tech late on the evening of the 11th. On the stage panel members appointed by the mayor had executed 22 schools simply by raising their arms when it came time to vote. A number of specialty schools were among those given the boot, including the Law, Government and Community Service High School in Queens.

                Watching the proceedings, Noah Gotbaum wondered aloud, “What are we teaching our youth about democracy?”

                This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/shuttered-how-america-selling-out-its-schools-1364307870. All rights are reserved.

              • susan.cnyc
                NationofChange.org - How Our Public Schools Became a ‘Communist Threat’ How Our Public Schools Became a ‘Communist Threat’ By Paul Buchheit Heartland
                Message 7 of 14 , Nov 18, 2013
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                  NationofChange.org - How Our Public Schools Became a ‘Communist Threat’

                  How Our Public Schools Became a ‘Communist Threat’

                  By Paul Buchheit

                  Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast called the public school system a "socialist regime." Michelle Rhee cautions us against commending students for their 'participation' in sports and other activities.



                  Privatizers believe that any form of working together as a community is anti-American. To them, individual achievement is all that matters. They're now applying their winner-take-all profit motive to our children.




                  We're Sliding Backwards, Towards "Separate and Unequal"



                  In 1954, the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education seemed to place our country on the right track. Chief Justice Earl Warren said that education "is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms." Thurgood Marshall insisted on "the right of every American to an equal start in life."



                  But then we got derailed. We've become a nation of inequality, worse than ever before, worse than during the racist "separate but equal" policy of Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896. The Civil Rights Project at UCLA shows that "segregated schools are systematically linked to unequal educational opportunities." The Economic Policy Institute tells us that "African American students are more isolated than they were 40 years ago."



                  The privatizers clamor for vouchers and charters to improve education, but such methods generally don't serve those who need it most. According to a Center on Education Policy report, private schools serve 12 percent of the nation's elementary and secondary students, but only one percent of disabled students. Forty-three percent of public school students are from minority families, compared to 24% of private school students.



                  Meanwhile, as teachers continue to get blamed, the Census Bureau tells us that an incredible 38 percent of black children live in poverty.




                  The Underprivileged Have Been Cheated Out Of Taxes



                  A Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) report revealed that total K-12 education cuts for fiscal 2012 were about $12.7 billion.



                  Almost 90 percent of K-12 funding comes from state and local taxes. But in 2011 and 2012, 155 of the largest U.S. corporations paid only about half of their required state taxes. That comes to $14 billion per year in unpaid taxes, more than the K-12 cuts.




                  Untaxed and Unqualified Foundations Want To "Save Our Schools"



                  The "starve the beast" mentality allows the privatizers to claim that our "Soviet-style" schools don't work, and that a business approach must be used instead. Philanthropists like Bill Gates and Eli Broad and Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch and the Walton family, who have little educational experience among them, and who have little accountability to the public, are promoting "education reform" with lots of standardized testing.



                  But according to the National Research Council, "The tests that are typically used to measure performance in education fall short of providing a complete measure of desired educational outcomes in many ways." Diane Ravitch notes that the test-based Common Core standards were developed by a Gates-funded organization with almost no public input. Desperate states had to adopt the standards to get funding.



                  Bill Gates may be well-intentioned, but he's a tech guy, and his programming of children into educational objects is disturbing. One of his ideas is to videotape teachers and then analyze their performances. The means of choosing 'analysts' is unclear. Another Gates idea is the Galvanic Skin Response bracelet, which would be attached to a child to measure classroom engagement, and ultimately gauge teacher performance. It all sounds like a drug company's test lab.



                  As noted by Ravitch and others, philanthropic organizations tend to contribute to "like-minded entities," which are likely to exclude representatives of the neediest community organizations. They are also tax-exempt. And when educational experiments go wrong, they can just leave their mess behind and move on to their next project.




                  Getting Past Our "Exceptionalism"



                  If we're willing to look beyond our borders for help, we will see the short-sightedness of our educational "reforms." Finland's schools were considered mediocre 30 years ago, but they've achieved a remarkable turnaround by essentially challenging their teachers before they're entrusted with the welfare of the children. Most Finnish teachers are unionized, and they undergo rigorousmasters-level training to ensure proficiency in the teaching profession, which is held in the same high esteem as law and medicine. In keeping with this respect for learning, government funding is applied equally to all schools, classes in the arts are available to all students, and tuition is free.



                  As a result, Finnish students, who are not subjected to standardized testing, finish at or near the top of international comparisons for reading, math, and science.

                  It's not just Finland with such impressive results. Research at the National Center on Education and the Economy has confirmed that educational systems in Japan, Shanghai, and Ontario, Canada have prospered with an emphasis on the preparation of teachers for the essential task of instructing their young people.




                  A Strong Community Leads To Individual Success



                  George Lakoff summarizes: "The Public provides freedom...Individualism begins after the roads are built, after individualists have had an education, after medical research has cured their diseases..."



                  Public education is vital to the promise of equal opportunity for all. But it will only succeed if we work together as a community, and stop listening to the voices of profit and inexperience.

                   

                  This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/how-our-public-schools-became-communist-threat-1384788749. All rights are reserved.

                • susan.cnyc
                  NationofChange.org - Shining a Light on ALEC’s Power to Shape Policy Shining a Light on ALEC’s Power to Shape Policy By Wendell Potter This story was
                  Message 8 of 14 , Dec 15, 2013
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                    NationofChange.org - Shining a Light on ALEC’s Power to Shape Policy

                    Shining a Light on ALEC’s Power to Shape Policy

                    By Wendell Potter

                    This story was originally published by The Center for Public Integrity, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, DC.

                    It’s amazing how a little sunlight will change the behavior of some of the biggest names in corporate America — sunlight here meaning greater transparency and accountability.

                    It’s also amazing how the UK’s The Guardian is covering this changed behavior — and its potential consequences for every American — without much competition from US-based media. It seems that reporters in Washington in particular can’t be bothered.

                    Over the past several decades, one of the country’s most influential political organizations — the 40-year-old American Legislative Exchange Council — was able to operate largely under the radar. Never heard of it? That’s by design. Founded in 1973 by conservative political operatives, ALEC has been successful in shaping public policy to benefit its corporate patrons in part because few people — including reporters — knew anything about the organization, much less how it went about getting virtually identical laws passed in a multitude of states.

                    That began to change two years ago when an insider leaked thousands of pages of documents — including more than 800 “model” bills and resolutions, showing just how close ALEC is with big corporate interests and revealing how it goes about getting laws passed to enhance the profits of its sponsors, usually at the expense of consumers.

                    The Center for Media and Democracy, a nonprofit corporate watchdog organization, sifted through the documents and posted them on a dedicated website, ALECexposed.org. Those bills and resolutions, drafted by or in collaboration with industry lobbyists and lawyers, “reveal the corporate collaboration reshaping our democracy, state by state,” CMD says on the website.

                    I reviewed all of the health care legislation in the leaked documents and wrote about what I found for The Nation magazine in July 2011. It became clear from my review that health insurers felt one of the best ways to block the profit-threatening provisions of ObamaCare would be to use ALEC to disseminate bills it had helped write to friendly state legislators. It was also clear that ALEC’s staff and membership had been at work for more than a decade on a broad range of issues important to my former industry, from turning over state Medicaid programs to private insurers to letting them market highly profitable junk insurance.

                    While ALEC-member legislators hail from every state, the organization has been especially successful in getting bills introduced in legislatures controlled by Republicans. As The New York Times noted in an editorial in February, more than 50 of ALEC’s model bills were introduced in Virginia alone last year.

                    In addition to insurance companies like State Farm and UnitedHealthcare, ALEC’s corporate membership has included big names ranging from ExxonMobil and Wells Fargo to Johnson & Johnson and Kraft. And it has worked closely with groups like the National Rifle Association as well.

                    It is the organization’s association with the NRA, in fact, that has led to dozens of corporations severing their ties with ALEC, as The Guardian reported.

                    Soon after the NRA succeeded in pushing a stand-your-ground bill through the Florida legislature — which George Zimmerman used in his defense in the Trayvon Martin case — ALEC adopted it as a model for other states. The group took that action after a 2005 NRA presentation to ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force. As The Center for Media and Democracy reported, the corporate co-chair of that task force at the time was Walmart, the country’s largest seller of rifles. Since then, more than two dozen states have passed laws identical or similar to the ALEC/NRA stand-your-ground model legislation.

                    News coverage of ALEC’s role in getting the controversial law enacted from coast to coast — coupled with CMD-led disclosures about the organization over the past two years — has caused many of ALEC’s longtime corporate members to abandon it, according to The Guardian.

                    Documents obtained by the British newspaper indicate that since 2011, ALEC has lost more than 60 corporate members, a hit so severe that during the first six months of this year it has “suffered a hole in its budget of more than a third of its projected income.” It has also lost nearly 400 state legislative members during the same time frame.

                    The organization has launched what it refers to as the “Prodigal Son Project” to woo back companies like Amazon, Coca-Cola, GE, Kraft and McDonald’s that have dropped their membership. Another “prodigal son” ALEC hopes to welcome back: that big retailer and rifle seller, Walmart. The loss of Walmart alone undoubtedly was a major contributor to the budget shortfall, considering the size of the company.

                    Meanwhile, just blocks from Capitol Hill where many Washington reporters spend their days, ALEC last week held its annual “policy summit,” but very few of those reporters felt the summit was worth their time, despite the fact that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) were on the agenda. And despite the fact that even with fewer resources, ALEC is still hugely influential in shaping public policy. As Nancy MacLean, professor of history and public policy at Duke University, noted in a May column for North Carolina Policy Watch, “What ALEC and the companies that provide it with millions in operating funds seek is, in effect, a slow-motion corporate takeover of our democracy.”

                    That might be a story worth covering.

                    This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/shining-light-alec-s-power-shape-policy-1387119654. All rights are reserved.

                  • susan.cnyc
                    NationofChange.org - A Poor Educational System A Poor Educational System By Jim Hightower Theres a growing army of the working poor in our nation, and big
                    Message 9 of 14 , Dec 15, 2013
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                      NationofChange.org - A Poor Educational System

                      A Poor Educational System

                      By Jim Hightower

                      There’s a growing army of the working poor in our nation, and big contingents of these folks are now on the march. They’re strategizing, organizing, and mobilizing against the immoral economics of inequality being hung around America’s neck by the likes of Walmart, McDonald’s, and colleges.

                      Wait a minute. Colleges? You get advanced degrees to get ahead in life. More education makes you better off, right? Well, ask a college professor about that — you know, the ones who earned PhDs and are now teaching America’s next generation.

                      The sorry secret of higher education — from community colleges to brand-name universities — is that they’ve embraced the corporate culture of a contingent workforce. They’re turning lots of professors into part-time, low-paid, no-benefit, no-tenure, temporary teachers.

                      It also means that these highly educated, fully credentialed professors have become part of America’s army of the working poor. They never know until a semester starts whether they’ll teach one class, three, or none — typically, this leaves them with take-home pay somewhere between zero and maybe $1,000 a month. Poverty. Overall, three-quarters of America’s higher-ed faculty members today are adjunct professors or off the tenure track. That means they’re attached to a particular school, but not essentially a part of it.

                      Adjuncts usually get no benefits, no real chance of earning fulltime positions, no due process or severance pay if dismissed, no say in curriculum or school policies…sometimes not even office space. Like their counterparts at Walmart and McDonald’s, adjunct college professors aren’t treated as valuable resources to be nurtured, but as cheap, exploitable, and disposable labor.

                      Unsurprisingly, this contingent of the low-wage army is organizing, too. For information, check out the New Faculty Majority: NewFacultyMajority.info.

                      This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/poor-educational-system-1387120017. All rights are reserved.

                    • susan.cnyc
                      NationofChange.org - How Privatization Perverts Education How Privatization Perverts Education By Paul Buchheit Profit-seeking in the banking and health care
                      Message 10 of 14 , Feb 17, 2014
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                        NationofChange.org - How Privatization Perverts Education

                        How Privatization Perverts Education

                        By Paul Buchheit

                        Profit-seeking in the banking and health care industries has victimized Americans. Now it's beginning to happen in education, with our children as the products.

                        There are good reasons—powerful reasons—to stop the privatization efforts before the winner-take-all free market creates a new vehicle for inequality. At the very least, we need the good sense to slow it down while we examine the evidence about charters and vouchers.

                        1. Charter Schools Have Not Improved Education

                        The recently updated CREDO study at Stanford revealed that while charters have made progress since 2009, their performance is about the same as that of public schools. The differences are, in the words of the National Education Policy Center, "so small as to be regarded, without hyperbole, as trivial." Furthermore, the four-year improvement demonstrated by charters may have been due to the closing of schools that underperformed in the earlier study, and also by a variety of means to discourage the attendance of lower-performing students.

                        Ample evidence exists beyond CREDO to question the effectiveness of charter schools (although they continue to have both supporters and detractors). In Ohio, charters were deemed inferior to traditional schools in all grade/subject combinations. Texas charters had a much lower graduation rate in 2012 than traditional schools. In Louisiana, where Governor Bobby Jindal proudly announced that "we're doing something about [failing schools]," about two-thirds of charters received a D or an F  from the Louisiana State Department of Education in 2013. Furthermore, charters in New Orleans rely heavily on inexperienced teachers and even its model charter school Sci Academy has experienced a skyrocketing suspension rate, which is the second highest in the city. More trouble looms for the over-chartered city in a lawsuit filed by families of disabled students contending that equal educational access has not been provided for their children.

                        2. The Profit Motive Perverts the Goals of Education


                         

                        Forbes notes: "The charter school movement began as a grassroots attempt to improve public education. It’s quickly becoming a backdoor for corporate profit." A McKinsey report estimates that education can be a $1.1 trillion business in the U.S. Meanwhile, state educational funding continues to be cut and budget imbalances are worsened by the transfer of public tax money to charter schools.

                        Education funding continues to be cut largely because corporations aren't paying their state taxes.

                        So philanthropists like Bill Gates and Eli Broad and Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch and Jeff Bezos and the Walton family, who have little educational experience among them and, who have little accountability to the public, are riding the free-market wave and promoting "education reform" with lots of standardized testing.

                        Just Like the Fast-Food Industry: Profits for CEOs, Low Wages for the Servers

                        Our nation's impulsive experiment with privatization is causing our schools to look more like boardrooms than classrooms. Charter administrators make a lot more money than their public school counterparts and their numbers are rapidly increasing. Teachers, on the other hand, are paid less and they have fewer years of experience and a higher turnover rate. The patriotic-sounding "Teach for America" charges public school districts $3,000 to $5,000 per instructor per year. Teachers don't get that money, the business owners do.

                        Good Business Strategy: Cut Employees, Use Machines to Teach

                        The profit motive also leads to shortcuts in the educational methods practiced on our children. Like "virtual" instruction. The video-game-named Rocketship Schools have $15/hour instructors monitoring up to 130 kids at a time as they work on computers. In Wisconsin, half the students in virtual settings are attending schools that are not meeting performance expectations. Only one out of twelve "cyber schools" met state standards in Pennsylvania. In Los Angeles public money goes for computers instead of needed infrastructure repair.

                        K12 Inc., the largest online, for-profit Educational Management Organization in the U.S., is a good example of what the Center for Media and Democracy calls "America’s Highest Paid Government Workers" -- that is, the CEOs of corporations that make billions by taking control of public services. While over 86 percent of K12's profits came from taxpayers, and while the salaries of K12's eight executives went from $10 million to over $21 million in one year, only 27.7 percent of K12 Inc. online schools met state standards in 2010-2011, compared to 52 percent of public schools.

                        It gets worse with the Common Core Standards, an unproven Gates-funded initiative that requires computers many schools don't have. The Silicon Valley Business Journal reports that "Next year, K-12 schools across the United States will begin implementing Common Core State Standards, an education initiative that will drive schools to adopt technology in the classroom as never before...Apple, Google, Cisco and a swarm of startups are elbowing in to secure market share." States are being hit with unexpected new costs, partly for curriculum changes, but also for technology upgrades, testing, and assessment.

                        Banker's Ethics in the Principal's Office

                        Finally, the profit motive leads to questionable ethics among school operators, if not outright fraud. After a Los Angeles charter school manager misused funds, the California Charter Schools Association insisted that charter schools be exempt from criminal laws because they are private. The same argument was used in a Chicago case. Charters employ the privatization defense to justify their generous salaries while demanding instructional space as public entities. States around the country are being attracted to the money, as, for example, in Texas and Ohio, where charter-affiliated campaign contributions have led to increased funding and licenses for charter schools.

                        3. Advanced Profit-Making: Higher Education

                        At the college level, for-profit schools eagerly clamor for low-income students and military veterans, who conveniently arrive with public money in the form of federal financial aid. For-profit colleges get up to 90 percent of their revenue from U.S. taxpayers. Less incentive remains for these schools after tuition is received, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the students enrolled in for-profit colleges in 2008-9 left without a degree or diploma.

                        As with K-12 education, the driving need for profit directs our students to computer screens rather than to skilled human communicators. A Columbia University study found that "failure and withdrawal rates were significantly higher for online courses than for face-to-face courses." The University of Phoenix has a 60 percent dropout rate.

                        The newest money-maker is the MOOC (Massively Open Online Course). Thanks to such sweeping high-tech strategies, higher ed is increasingly becoming a network of diploma processors, with up to a 90 percent dropout rate, and with the largest business operations losing the most students. For a 2012 bioelectricity class at Duke, for example, 12,725 students enrolled, 3,658 attempted a quiz, and 313 passed. Yet “schools” like edX are charging universities $250,000 per course, then $50,000 for each re-offering of the course, along with a cut of any revenue generated by the course.

                        4. Lower-Performing Children Left Behind

                        The greatest perversion of educational principles is the threat to equal opportunity, a mandate that was eloquently expressed by Chief Justice Earl Warren in the 1954 Supreme Court decision on Brown vs. the Board of Education: "Education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments...Such an opportunity...is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms." But we're turning away from that important message. The National Education Policy Center notes that "Charter schools...can shape their student enrollment in surprising ways," through practices that often exclude "students with special needs, those with low test scores, English learners, or students in poverty."

                        The Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), perhaps the most acclaimed charter organization, says it doesn't do that. KIPP has its supporters and it proudly displays the results of an independent study by Mathematica Policy Research, which concluded that "The average impact of KIPP on student achievement is positive, statistically significant, and educationally substantial."

                        But funding for the Mathematica study was provided by Atlantic Philanthropies, the same organization that provided $10-25 million in funding to KIPP.

                        According to a 2011 study by Western Michigan University, KIPP schools enrolled a lower percentage of students with disabilities (5.9 percent) than their local school districts (12.1 percent), enrolled a lower percentage of students classified as English Language Learners (11.5 percent) than their local school districts (19.2 percent), and experienced substantially higher levels of attrition than their local school districts. For charters in general, the CREDO study found that fewer special education students and fewer English language learners are served than in traditional public schools. And charter schools serve fewer disabled students. According to a Center on Education Policy report, 98 percent of disabled students are educated in public schools, while only 1 percent are educated in private schools.

                        In New York City, special-needs students and English-language learners are enrolled at a much lower rate in charter schools than in public schools; and Over the Counter students—those not participating in the choice process—are disproportionately assigned to high schools with higher percentages of low-performing students. Special education students also leave charters at a much higher rate than special education students in traditional New York public schools. In Nashville, low-performing students are leaving KIPP Academy and other charters just in time for their test scores to be transferred to the public schools. And Milwaukee's voucher program, which has been praised as a model of privatization success, has had up to a 75 percent attrition rate.

                        Equal Access to Education?

                        It's been 60 years since Chief Justice Warren declared education "a right which must be made available to all on equal terms." Belief in the American Dream means that anyone can move up the ladder. But today, only 4 percent of those raised in the bottom quintile make it all the way to the top as adults. Two-thirds of those raised in the bottom of the wealth ladder remain on the bottom two rungs.

                        Compared to other developed countries, equal education has been a low priority in America, with less spending on poor children than rich ones, and with repeated cutbacks in state funding. But there's no market-based reform where children are involved. Education can't be reduced to a lottery, or a testing app, or a business plan. Equal opportunity in education ensures that every child is encouraged and challenged and nurtured from the earliest age, as we expect for our own children.

                        This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/how-privatization-perverts-education-1392652405. All rights are reserved.

                      • susan.cnyc
                        NationofChange.org - New York City’s Charter School Showdown Re-Ignites National Debate on Privatized Education New York City’s Charter School Showdown
                        Message 11 of 14 , Mar 13, 2014
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                          NationofChange.org - New York City’s Charter School Showdown Re-Ignites National Debate on Privatized Education

                          New York City’s Charter School Showdown Re-Ignites National Debate on Privatized Education

                          By Amy Goodman

                          The battle over charter schools is heating up after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio blocked three privately run charter schools from using rent-free space inside public schools. The city also announced it will cut $210 million in charter school construction funding and use the money toward universal pre-K and after-school programs. The moves have set off a fierce debate in New York and the country and have even pitted de Blasio against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat. We are joined by former public school teacher Brian Jones and Steve Barr, founder of the Green Dot Public Schools, a charter school network.

                          This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/new-york-city-s-charter-school-showdown-re-ignites-national-debate-privatized-education-1394727204. All rights are reserved.

                        • susan.cnyc
                          NationofChange.org - Four Arguments that Scream ‘Save Public Education!’ Four Arguments that Scream ‘Save Public Education!’ By Paul Buchheit The
                          Message 12 of 14 , Mar 31, 2014
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                            NationofChange.org - Four Arguments that Scream ‘Save Public Education!’

                            Four Arguments that Scream ‘Save Public Education!’

                            By Paul Buchheit

                            The education privatizers are trying to convince us that parental 'choice' will solve all the problems in our schools. But the choice they have in mind is to dismantle a once-proud system of education that was nurtured and funded by a society of Americans willing to work together.

                            The wealthiest among us seem to have forgotten how important it is to cooperate, as most Americans did in the post-WW2 years, in order to forge new paths of productivity and inventiveness. A vibrant society makes great individuals, not the other way around. Education must be at the forefront of such cooperative thinking. Here are four good arguments for it.

                            1. Equal Opportunity is an American Mandate

                            In the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown vs. the Board of Education, Chief Justice Earl Warren said that education "is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms." Equally eminent future Justice Thurgood Marshall insisted on "the right of every American to an equal start in life."

                            But now, as The Economist points out, "Whereas most OECD countries spend more on the education of poor children than rich ones, in America the opposite is true." Poverty, of course, is of all colors, but it's disproportionately black. The Civil Rights Project at UCLA shows that "segregated schools are systematically linked to unequal educational opportunities," while the Economic Policy Institute tells us that "African American students are more isolated than they were 40 years ago." New York City is the best example of that.


                             

                            Charters and vouchers are the 'choice' of the free market. But the National Education Policy Center notes that "Charter schools...can shape their student enrollment in surprising ways," through practices that often exclude "students with special needs, those with low test scores, English learners, or students in poverty." Stanford's updated CREDO study found that fewer special education students and fewer English language learners are served in charters than in traditional public schools.

                            2. Michelle Rhee Is Wrong

                            She said, "I think that we are doing the wrong thing in our society when we are congratulating mediocrity and participation." But among American children, whether 'mediocre' or 'exceptional,' the ability to participate in a cooperative manner should be congratulated. Children have to learn to work with others before trying to outdo each other.

                            For parents, too, the public school system is a cooperative system of democracy in which everyone can participate. Business-minded people have tried to twist cooperation into anti-Americanism. A CNN report referred to our "Soviet-style" educational system. Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast and Ohio Republican State Representative Andrew Brenner both dismissed our system of public education as "socialist." Netflix founder Reed Hastings made the remarkable assertion that schools "are prisoners" of democratic governance, and that there is "chaos" in freely elected school boards.

                            The National School Boards Association reminds us that "The school board represents the public’s voice in public education, providing citizen governance for what the public schools need and what the community wants." Charter schools take away this valuable right. As Diane Ravitch explains, "Because they are loosely regulated, charter schools are often neither accountable nor transparent...Charter schools are 'public' when it is time to claim public funding, but they have claimed...to be private corporations when their employees seek the protection of state labor laws." Or when parents need to know what their school administrators are doing.

                            3. The Classroom is Not a Warehouse

                            Education is the next great opportunity for the big names in business, such as Rupert Murdoch, who called K-12 "a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed." A McKinsey report estimates that education can be a $1.1 trillion business in the United States. Forbes notes: "The charter school movement [is] quickly becoming a backdoor for corporate profit."

                            Charter administrators make a lot more money than their public school counterparts, as in New York City, where the top 16 charter school executives all earn more than public school Chancellor Dennis Walcott. The salaries of eight executives of the K12 chain, which gets over 86 percent of its profits from the taxpayers, went from $10 million to over $21 million in one year.

                            Their buzzwords are "education reform" and "standardized testing." The Silicon Valley Business Journal reports that "Next year, K-12 schools across the United States will begin implementing Common Core State Standards, an education initiative that will drive schools to adopt technology in the classroom as never before...Apple, Google, Cisco and a swarm of startups are elbowing in to secure market share." School districts are being hit with unexpected new costs, partly for curriculum changes, but also for technology upgrades, testing, and assessment. Los Angeles, for example, recently agreed to spend $1 billion for iPads for all the students, even as infrastructure deteriorates and art teachers are laid off.

                            To ensure that the public money keeps rolling in, companies are establishing PACs and lobbyist groups to influence school board elections. Teach for America worked behind the scenes with Chicago officials to plan the opening of charter schools to replace shuttered public schools. In the event of any funding improprieties, charters have their backs covered, insisting that they're exempt from criminal laws because they are private. They're public for funding purposes, private for nontransparency purposes.

                            4. Starve the Beast, Starve Society

                            The U.S. Department of Education reported that $197 billion is needed to repair the nation's K-12 public school buildings. But the public system is going broke, starved by a lack of tax dollars. State budgets are providing less per-pupil funding for kindergarten through 12th grade than they did six years ago - in many cases far less.

                            It was estimated that total K-12 education cuts for fiscal 2012 were about $12.7 billion. In that same year, 155 of the largest U.S. corporations avoided about $14 billion in state taxes. Much of the remaining 50-state education fund is being transferred to charter schools.

                            Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD). As Diane Ravitch points out, the education privatizers are using FUD to undermine public confidence in public education. The myth of the failing public school is the newest version of weapons of mass destruction andrunaway entitlement spending and domino theory. It's a masterful form of propaganda, inciting self-destructive sentiments among the public, and benefiting the business people who have a growing financial interest in our children.

                            This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/four-arguments-scream-save-public-education-1396275089. All rights are reserved.

                          • susan.cnyc
                            NationofChange.org - Milking Public Education Milking Public Education By Alex Xourias The building stood facing me, the windows staring ahead like hundreds of
                            Message 13 of 14 , Apr 16, 2014
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                              NationofChange.org - Milking Public Education

                              Milking Public Education

                              By Alex Xourias

                              The building stood facing me, the windows staring ahead like hundreds of scrutinizing eyes. It was larger than I thought it would be.

                              I looked around as I dug my hands into my pockets, struggling to retain heat. Across the street was a public housing development that appeared to be shut down: broken doors, smashed windows, an overall sense of abandonment. To the left was a park, buried under feet of snow.

                              As an incoming Teach For America corps member, it’s my responsibility to understand the school I’ll be teaching at and the community surrounding it. My research of the charter school system has fascinated and perplexed me. Looking the other direction, I could see Chicago’s skyline, beginning to shine brilliantly with the rising sun. This was the public charter school where I would be teaching for the next two years of my life, beginning in just a few short months. I took a deep breath, collected my thoughts, and walked inside.

                              Before I’ve even set foot in the classroom, I’m already growing leery of the role corporations are playing in charter-dominated school systems. Are these relationships with for-profit entities benefiting or hindering students and their educational journeys?

                              In 1992, the first charter school opened in Minnesota. By 2001, 2,000 charter schools were educating almost 500,000 students. Population size has since quadrupled, with more than2 million children enrolled at about 5,700 charter schools.

                              Compared to the 50 million students attending traditional and non-charter magnet public schools, this number may seem inconsequential. While there’s plenty of controversy and debate over the quality of education provided by these different types of schools, many policymakers are positioning charters as a cure for what ails many American schools.

                              The National Education Association refers to charter schools as “educational reform mechanisms,” with innovative teaching and learning practices that can lead to improvements in traditional public school education. But why should for-profit companies be entrusted with spearheading so much of this experimentation with new education approaches?

                              Traditional public schools may accept donations from individuals and organizations, but companies interact more often with charter schools because there’s less red tape to cut through. Ultimately, charters receive almost triple the amount of money from private sources than traditional public schools.

                              Developing relationships with the community is important for all schools. But when these partners use manipulation to reap profits, corruption creeps in. In fact, as charter schools build these relationships with private enterprise, transparency diminishes. In numerous states, over half of charter schools failed to report any of the private revenue they were raking in.

                              Corporations primarily build profits in this relationship through tax credits. The New Markets Tax Credit imposed during the Clinton presidency allows private companies to receive up to a 39 percent tax credit if they invest in charters. This loophole would allow a lending company to double its profits in only seven years.

                              In addition to that tax credit, corporations suck funds from charters with a caveat. Some companies will only donate to charters if those schools purchase the company’s products.

                              Diann Woodard, the president of the American Federation of School Administrators warnedlast year that these contracts are easier to negotiate with charter schools, “where they are often uninhibited by public schools’ procurement rules and standards requiring a demonstrable, educational need for technology.”

                              In other words, these charters may not even need to replace the technologies they already have. Rather, they spend the public funds allocated to them on these unnecessary purchases.

                              While the mission of charter schools doesn’t inherently advocate this corporate takeover, these loopholes have allowed the private sector to siphon a growing share of public education funding.

                              As I prepare to teach in a charter school for the next two years, I can’t help but wonder how this trend can be reversed. I’m sure I speak for most people when I say equal educational opportunity is something to strive for.

                              But how can we achieve this when corporations are tightening their grip on charter schools and slurping up public funds?

                              This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/milking-public-education-1397662992. All rights are reserved.

                            • susan.cnyc
                              NationofChange.org - Charter Schools Gone Wild: Study Finds Widespread Fraud, Mismanagement and Waste Charter Schools Gone Wild: Study Finds Widespread Fraud,
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                                NationofChange.org - Charter Schools Gone Wild: Study Finds Widespread Fraud, Mismanagement and Waste

                                Charter Schools Gone Wild: Study Finds Widespread Fraud, Mismanagement and Waste

                                By Joshua Holland

                                Charter school operators want to have it both ways. When they’re answering critics of school privatization, they say charter schools are public — they use public funds and provide students with a tuition-free education. But when it comes to transparency, they insist they have the same rights to privacy as any other private enterprise.

                                But a report released Monday by Integrity in Education and the Center for Popular Democracy — two groups that oppose school privatization – presents evidence that inadequate oversight of the charter school industry hurts both kids and taxpayers.

                                Sabrina Joy Stevens, executive director of Integrity in Education, told BillMoyers.com, “Our report shows that over $100 million has been lost to fraud and abuse in the charter industry, because there is virtually no proactive oversight system in place to thwart unscrupulous or incompetent charter operators before they cheat the public.” The actual amount of fraud and abuse the report uncovered totaled $136 million, and that was just in the 15 states they studied.

                                Diane Ravitch on school privatization.

                                According to the study, fraud and mismanagement of charter schools fall into six categories:

                                • Charter operators using public funds illegally — outright embezzlement
                                • Using tax dollars to illegally support other, non-educational businesses
                                • Mismanagement that put children in potential danger
                                • Charters illegally taking public dollars for services they didn’t provide
                                • Charter operators inflating their enrollment numbers to boost revenues
                                • General mismanagement of public funds

                                The report looks at problems in each of the 15 states it covers, with dozens of case studies. In some instances, charter operators used tax dollars to prop up side businesses like restaurants and health food stores — even a failing apartment complex.

                                The report’s authors note that, “where there is little oversight, and lots of public dollars available, there are incentives for ethically challenged charter operators to charge for services that were never provided.” They cite the example of the Cato School of Reason Charter School in California, which, despite its libertarian name, collected millions of tax dollars by registering students who actually attended private schools in the area.

                                Perhaps the most troubling examples of mismanagement were those the report says actually put kids in danger:

                                Many of the cases involved charter schools neglecting to ensure a safe environment for their students. For example, Ohio’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Richard A. Ross, was forced to shut down two charter schools, The Talented Tenth Leadership Academy for Boys Charter School and The Talented Tenth Leadership Academy for Girls Charter School, because, according to Ross, “They did not ensure the safety of the students, they did not adequately feed the students, they did not accurately track the students and they were not educating the students well. It is unacceptable and intolerable that a sponsor and school would do such a poor job. It is an educational travesty.”

                                Integrity in Education and the Center for Popular Democracy aren’t the first to warn of problems plaguing an under-regulated industry fueled by billions of tax dollars. A 2010 report to Congress by the Department of Education’s Inspector General’s office warned of the agency’s “concern about vulnerabilities in the oversight of charter schools” in light of “a steady increase in the number of charter school complaints.” It blamed regulators’ failure “to provide adequate oversight needed to ensure that Federal funds [were] properly used and accounted for.”

                                Read the full report for the watchdogs’ recommendations for how policymakers could strengthen oversight and bring real transparency to the charter school industry.

                                This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/charter-schools-gone-wild-study-finds-widespread-fraud-mismanagement-and-waste-1399470980. All rights are reserved.

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